“The Shop”

Georgia powerhouse celebrates 100 years

Sometimes a less quantifiable measure of success is the respect of one’s community. For Southern States LLC, which just reached 100 years of high-voltage power transmission and distribution servicing, attaining a nickname in local circles had to amount to a lot. Folks in Hampton, Georgia simply call it “The Shop”.

The company’s portfolio reflects that of a century’s worth of effort and progression. Since it was formed in 1916 by six men in Birmingham, Alabama, Southern States made name changes, helped with WWII production efforts, donated to the community, and offered one additional service after another for its core industry.

SS LLC's training programs.—Southern States photo

Southern States’ training programs.—Southern States photo

In addition to manufacturing capacitors, switch interrupter attachments and shunt reactors, the company recently added ballistic resistant products to its line—and that’s just the tip of an iceberg too big to fathom when celebrating a landmark anniversary. Let’s just say that over the years, the company has not only gotten a comprehensive hold on switchgear, but also added services crucial to the both the electromechanical aftermarket and the power industry. Spare and replacement parts, training services, upgrades and retrofits, restoration, on-site and turnkey solutions, and mobile alternatives are now all available from Southern States as they turn 100.

During World War II: “You know what Southern States was doing. It’s the only time I can remember that they weren’t making electrical apparatus; they were making parts for bombs,” he said. “That brings it close to home.”

The timeline intersects with landmark events of the 20th century. 1919: As the changing world begins to reconstruct during peacetime at the end of World War I, Southern States Electric Co. reconstructs its name to Southern States Equipment Co. to adapt to a changing industry. It goes from repairs and service only to including the sale of manufactured products. 1940: The world again plunges into war, and (although the United States is not yet directly involved) the Southern States Equipment Corp. is one of thousands of industrial companies who begin the rapid preparation of military equipment. It also ‘mobilizes’ to its ultimate home in Hampton, acquiring the Henderson Foundry and Machine Works. During World War II, the machine shop rededicated its equipment to make supplies for the U.S. military, Henry County Chair Tommy Smith told Noreen Cochran of the South Metro Neighbor. “You know what Southern States was doing. It’s the only time I can remember that they weren’t making electrical apparatus; they were making parts for bombs,” he said. “That brings it close to home.” Its wartime industry efforts making bomb casings and firing pins earned it an Army-Navy munitions excellence award. 1976: The United States celebrates 200 years of independence, now a coast-to-coast nation, and Southern States completes its own expansion, the last of four major additions since 1952. It will eventually reach 30 acres of property, including a high-voltage test laboratory, 120,000 square feet of factory space and 40,000 square feet of office space. It currently holds more than 120 patents for its inventions, including high-voltage switching products and items custom-developed for clients. It also now has almost 400 employees.

A Southern States MACI switch closure accessory.—Southern States photo

A Southern States MACI switch closure accessory.—Southern States photo

These events reflect an imprint of 100 years of growth. Some of the intangibles have come not in the form of the company’s achievements, however, but through its giving. Smith told Cochran “Southern States was very instrumental in providing many, many dollars for the youth in Hampton. They used to sponsor baseball teams and basketball teams. The people were aware and didn’t forget it.”

County Chair Smith also called the company “the backbone of the success of Hampton” and “an instrumental force in the prosperity of the electrical industry in Georgia.” All from a place that began as an electric motor and transformer repair shop, and first product was a motor operator. The southern states might have been split at one time in history, but Southern States, once incorporated, united its entire community. Happy 100th to The Shop.

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